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To Allow Pets or Not, that is the Question.

One of the top concerns my owner/clients have when first entering the world or property management is pets. Pet lover or not, this is a major concern. It is completely justifiable, everyone knows someone with a terror of a pet. A dog that chewed baseboards or a cat that sprayed all over new carpet. Even the good ones still get sick and accidents happen. So, when you are leasing out your home or investment what should you do? In my professional opinion, do not say no. At least not automatically …

Team Residential Management Pets

Would you lease to me and my children, Opal and Barbara?

According to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 65% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 79.7 million homes. The two biggest reasons owners hire me is to protect their investment and reduce vacancies. When I first began my journey in property management, I would never disagree with an owner when they said “no pets.” And during those years, time after time, I wouldn’t show pet owners these homes. Time would go by and the property would sit vacant. Owners would inquire why their properties were not getting leased and eventually they would agree to allow pets. For most animal lovers, a no-pet policy is a deal breaker and according to the National Association of Realtors, “when finding a home, 95 percent of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals, and 81 percent of U.S. households say animal-related considerations will play a role in deciding on their next living situation.”

Team Residential Management may say “yes” to pets; however, we state there are pet restrictions. In many cities, there are restrictions on how many pets can be in a household. As a company, we do not allow more than 2 pets. We do not allow aggressive breeds due to homeowner’s insurance. Some companies have size restrictions, we do not. A bad pet is a bad pet, regardless of size.

There are things a property manager can do to alleviate the stress of having a four-legged tenant.

  • Include a pet agreement with specifications about the pet along with a pet deposit and/or pet fee.
  • Add special provisions specific to your client’s concerns. For example, we had a historic home with the original hardwood floors. On top of the pet deposit, the tenant had to provide monthly receipts of getting their dogs nails trimmed. They included this receipt with their rental payment.
  • Meet the pet. Verify age/breed. (A 10-year old dog is a lot different than a 10-month puppy!)
  • Check out social media. You can tell a lot about someone from social media, including their pet. This is a great way to figure out if they are a good pet owner.
  • Call up their old landlord. Did they have any issues with the pet?
  • Review any written documentation: Has the pet completed obedience school? Are the vaccinations up-to-date?

Some tenant’s do not have a pet upon move in and get one down the road. This is why there should be a clause in the lease for unauthorized pets. If the tenant violates the lease due to an unauthorized pet, they will be fined an initial amount on date of discovery as well as daily until the issue is resolved. If a tenant wants a pet, the lease must be amended adding the pet agreement prior to acceptance. And yes … some pet adoption places will contact the landlord prior to releasing the pet.

Renting to pet owner’s does not have to be scary. You just need an experienced Property Manager to know what to look for and what to add to the lease. Say “yes” (with restrictions) to pet owner’s because the pet owner may be a better choice than the pet-free tenant. You don’t know unless you’re open to choices.

Questions to ask when interviewing a Property Management Company

Interview new employee for company

 

 

Congratulations! You are now a Landlord. Now, it’s time to start interviewing multiple property management companies and find the best fit for you. With the right questions, you will be able to reveal a company’s education and experience to make an informed decision.

 

Questions based on experience:

  • How long has your company been in business?
  • What types of properties do you manage?
  • How many properties do you manage?
  • Where are your properties located?
  • Do you have the time and resources to successfully add my property(ies)?

You cannot replace the experience a company has with books. A good property management company is knowledgeable and up-to-date with current property codes. A GREAT property management company has the experience to back it up.

Questions about Education:

  • Do you have your real estate license? Who is your Broker?
  • Do you have any types of certification?trpm-logo

In the State of Texas, it is required that a Property Manager has a real estate license. There are continuing education programs specifically for the property management industry. There are trade organizations, such as and IREM as well as specific designations with the Texas Association of Realtors, such as TLS and TRPM. Just like sales, property management is constantly changing and you want to make sure the company has acquired the knowledge and training necessary to obtain the property certification.

Questions about Knowledge of Landlord-Tenant Law:

  • Do you know the city, state and federal laws for property management and dealing with tenants?
  • What are the federal fair housing laws?
  • Do you know how to properly evict a tenant?
  • How do you store the security deposit?
  • What is the timeline of releasing a security deposit and how does your company account for damages?

If they cannot answer the questions immediately, you should stop the interview. A property management company must have extensive knowledge of landlord tenant law. Since they are representing you, any missteps could result in lawsuits against you and your property.

Questions about Filling Vacancies

  • How long does it take you to fill a vacancy?
  • Where will you advertise my property?
  • How do you determine the market rent value?
  • How many tenants have you evicted in the past year?

A vacant property can cost you thousands in mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, utilities, lawn care and more. When you hire a company to manage your property, you should expect them to fill the vacancy with a qualified tenant. Life happens. Vacancies happen. But it is their job to look out for your best interest and minimize turnover time.

Questions about Maintenance

  • How do you handle after-hours calls?
  • What repairs is the tenant responsible for?
  • Are your vendors insured and bonded?
  • Are you paid a referral fee from the vendor?

Good, qualified and inexpensive vendors are hard to come by. A Property Management Company should have responsive licensed vendors that are going to take care of your investment. If something were to go south, for example an electrical repair gone wrong, you need to have the insurance a vendor would have. If a company is using a vendor based on an incentive, it is 99% of the time NOT in your best interest.